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“What’s in it for me?” A motivational lesson

Ever wonder why one of your employees, shareholders, managers, suppliers, or board members sometimes behaves in a way you might consider irrational?

Putting yourself in their shoes

If you want to best describe the motivation behind the action, think “What’s in it for me”? Your employees, your shareholders, your customers, and your suppliers are all driven by this question.  So why not put yourself in their shoes and develop your action plan and goals to help each of them to achieve theirs?

Be a good manager

Employees want to be challenged, appreciated, and rewarded for good work.  So, create a plan for each that will accomplish these goals upon successful achievement of their tasks over time.  Be bold enough to ask each during their periodic reviews to tell you what they want to achieve.  Be a good manager by creating paths to achievement that reflect those ambitions and allow the employee to measure success in a meaningful way during the effort to progress.

Handling suppliers’ needs

[Email readers, continue here…]  Suppliers need you to be a good customer, to pay a reasonable price for goods or services, to pay your bills on time, and of course to reorder when the time comes.  But suppliers also want to know what makes you productive and help you win at your game.  Good suppliers want to create solutions to your needs and distance themselves from their competition.  So, meet with critical suppliers and challenge them to meet your needs, asking how they can help solve your problems.  Both sides win when you take the effort to inform, challenge, and partner with suppliers.

And especially, reach out to your customers

Your customers want to be treated as special.  Each would like to know that they are important, genuinely important, to your success.  Many would gladly share their problems with you hoping that you could provide solutions that would benefit both parties.


And then there is your board of directors

Your board members would experience a special feeling of accomplishment if they, as a group, could help you solve a problem that is strategic to the success of the company.

But deep within each of these stakeholders is the question baked into our psyche: “What’s in it for me”?  You can unlock lots of energy, talent and effort from each of these stakeholders merely by thinking ahead and planning your approach in response to that simple question.

  • Michael O'Daniel

    WIIFM should be the guiding principle behind every message an organization sends out, internally or externally, whoever the intended target is. Always strive to take the other person’s POV into account in crafting your message and you’ll succeed more often than not.

    Good salespeople understand the principle of WIIFM and customize their pitches accordingly. Marketing people and C-suiters often do not and focus more on “who” the company is and “what” it offers rather than on the benefits to the customer.

  • Arthur Lipper

    Self-interest is universal and constructive. Self-interest runs the gamut from issues relating to survival to increased income or wealth.

    It is important that employers and managers impart to those for whom they are responsible the importance to the organization of what they do and why, in terms of the organization achieving its objective, that what is done be done well.

    Of course, the organization should have a well known, and actually followed, policy of rewarding those who are well performing.

    Fear of loss of employment can be a motivator, but a belief that adding to operational success will be rewarded is more constructive.

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